As PROMESA is implemented, protests begin in Puerto Rico
Amid the economic crisis taking place in Puerto Rico, many citizens have started voicing their concerns in the form of protests. Hundreds of citizens started protesting the Walmart corporation on their island, as well as the PROMESA oversight board.
PROMESA is the acronym for the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Stability Act, passed by Congress to help help Puerto Rico fix its debt crisis. The act created a board of seven appointed US officials who are given power over Puerto Rico’s economy. Citizens are not happy with this decision. They have been voicing their concerns with PROMESA ever since its creation. On August 31 of last month, a group of protesters helped shut down the first scheduled conference of PROMESA. These protesters helped block roads to interrupt officials going to and from the conference building in San Juan. The protesters included various workers, students, and activist groups.There were instances where the police officers used pepper spray and batons on the protestors. Only one person was arrested during these protests.
The people of Puerto Rico have been frustrated with PROMESA, and it shows in their protests. Many believe that they are being stripped of their political, economic, and social autonomy. PROMESA gives seven officials the right to control Puerto Rico’s economy and these officials were not elected by Puerto Ricans. Many believe that these officials will not adhere to Puerto Rican advisors’ recommendations on how to best manage this affair. There are still conflicts with protestors and the PROMESA oversight board, but for now, the board still has the authority to manage Puerto Rico’s economy.
This all ties into another protest that has been going on in Puerto Rico. It involves the protest of the biggest Walmart on the island. On September 6, hundreds of protestors help shut down Walmart for the day. The protesters argue that Walmart damages the local economy, giving insecure, uncertain jobs for citizens. They also believe that big corporations, like Walmart, have contributed to the economic crisis happening on the islands. Frustration grew towards Walmart when Puerto Rico’s government tried to increase their tax rate from 2% to 6.5%, but a US Appeals court declared that it was unconstitutional to do so. Citizens took action, which to the Walmart protest.
Puerto Rican citizens are frustrated with what is happening in their territory. They feel that their voices are not being heard by the US government. Economic uncertainty is still paramount in Puerto Rico and tensions have risen. The majority of protesters have remained peaceful. No extreme riots have broken out. There is expected to be a lot more protests that will take place in the near future against the PROMESA board and big corporations like Walmart.
photo credit: Juventud Trabajadora – PPT